Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he will not expel US diplomats in revenge for hacking sanctions imposed by White House officials.
The country’s foreign minster had threatened to evict officials in retaliation against the White House’s decision to banish 35 Russian diplomats from the US – but Putin stepped in to say he would not engage in tit-for-tat politics.
The shock move did not stop the ministry’s spokesman from slamming the Barack Obama administration, who didn’t hold back as she called them a ‘group of foreign policy losers, angry and shallow-brained’.
Foreign minister Sergey Lavrov had fired back at Barack Obama’s decision only to be pegged back by his leader.
As well as sending US officials back to America, Mr Lavrov suggested closing down an area used by Americans for their summer retreat on the outskirts of Moscow and a warehouse south of Moscow.
But Putin dismissed the idea, saying he did not want to stop youngsters from being able to use the area.
He even invited children of any American diplomats in Moscow to celebrate the New Year with him at the Kremlin.
Mr Lavrov said in televised remarks on Friday the foreign ministry and other agencies suggested President Vladimir Putin should expel 31 employees of the US embassy in Moscow and four diplomats from the US consulate in St Petersburg.
Another suggestion is to bar US diplomats from using their summer retreat on the outskirts of Moscow and a warehouse in the south of Moscow.
But Putin made a shock move this afternoon by announcing no action would be taken against US officials.
‘We will not create problems for American diplomats. We will not expel anyone,’ he said in a statement released by the Kremlin.
The ministry’s spokesman Maria Zakharova claimed the US and American people were ‘humiliated by their own President’ in what she described as the Cold War-style measures against Moscow.
In a personal onslaught, she claimed Secretary of State John Kerry was not in line with what Moscow sees as draconian measures.
‘The most surprising thing is that having failed to add to the history any achievements at the world stage, the Nobel Prize winner managed to make a big inkblot instead of an elegant mark.
‘Only Kerry deserves sympathy from this group of spoilers.
‘He was not an ally, but he tried to remain professional and to keep his human dignity.’
She claimed: ‘His own colleagues were mocking him, cheated on him and did not let him work.
‘God save any Secretary of State from what he had to go through.
‘Mr Kerry, at this hard moment for the USA let me express my solidarity with you – you have done everything possible in order to prevent foreign policy collapse in your country. ‘
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev also weighed in and called the new round of US sanctions against his country ‘anti-Russian death throes’.
When he was president in 2008 to 2012 Medvedev focused on improving US-Russia ties in what became known as the reset policy.
He voiced disappointment with the new round of Obama’s sanctions.
‘It is sad that the Obama administration that began its life by restoring ties ends it with anti-Russian death throes. RIP,’ Medvedev said on Twitter.
The Russian embassy in the UK also took to social media to react to the spat by tweeting a picture of a ‘lame duck’ with the caption, ‘President Obama expels 35 diplomats in Cold War deja-vu.
‘Everybody, including the American people, will be glad to see the last of this hapless administration.’
Maria Zakharova claimed US citizens were let down by the White House, and added: ‘Not by international terrorists, not by troops of the enemy.
‘This time Washington got a slap in the face from its own master and it increased the urgent agenda of the incoming Donald Trump team to its maximum level.’
Moscow hopes that Trump’s arrival next month in the White House will gradually lead to a reset of relations between the two countries.
‘That’s all, the curtain falls,’ she said of the Obama presidency.
‘The bad performance is over.
‘The whole world, from the stalls to the upper balcony, is watching the smashing blow on American prestige and its leadership made by Barack Obama and his illiterate foreign policy team, that disclosed its top secret to the world – their exceptional nature was a mask for their helplessness.
‘No single enemy could do more harm to the USA.’
A senior pro-Putin MP, Irina Yarovaya, a deputy speaker, accused Obama of seeking ‘revenge’ on US voters who rejected his policies in voting for Trump over Hillary Clinton.
‘The outgoing Obama administration’s actions increasingly resemble a revenge on US voters and are getting more and more destructive,’ she said.
‘No matter how many diplomats Obama expels, it’s his aggressive and Russophobe policies that were discarded by US citizens,’ she said.
‘By retiring with a scandal, you only demonstrate your bad manners and admit a total political defeat.’
Vladimir Putin has, however, taken the dramatic step to close an Anglo-American day school in Moscow just hours after President Obama announced the tough new sanctions against the country.
Putin’s government announced on Thursday it was shutting the Anglo-American School of Moscow – a K-12 school chartered by the U.S., British, and Canadian embassies.
About 1,200 students from 60 different countries take classes at the school.
Founded in the Stalin era, it is chartered by the embassies of the US, Britain and Canada.
Bloggers and online commentators attacked the decision to hit children in the threat to close the Anglo-American School in Moscow, which opened in 1949.
Mirsaid Davydov asked: ‘What are kids to do with it? It is the last thing – to hit children, the ill and old people, because they are not guilty in the games of big idiots.’
Alexander Yudin said forcing the children to change schools was a ‘horrible’ move by Russia.
Vladimir Kruchinin commented: ‘The Western press says they expelled diplomats who were listed as spies but in reality the were running the American assets of the top Russian officials.
‘And our guys can hit only children and old people like in Syria.’
Russian diplomat Dmitry Peskov reiterated on Thursday Russia was not involved in the hacking scandal and told reporters the measures signal Obama’s ‘unpredictable’ and ‘aggressive foreign policy.’
‘Such steps of the US administration that has three weeks left to work are aimed at two things: to further harm Russian-American ties, which are at a low point as it is, as well as, obviously, deal a blow on the foreign policy plans of the incoming administration of the president-elect,’ Peskov said.
Donald Trump responded to the sanctions, saying it is ‘time for our country to move on to bigger and better things.’
It echoes comments he has made publicly and on Twitter since both the CIA and FBI agreed Russia was involved in hacking during the election campaign.
But he added he’ll meet with U.S. intelligence officials next week ‘in order to be updated on the facts of this situation.’
Kellyanne Conway then questioned whether the sanctions are being put in place to make life difficult for her boss.
‘I will tell you that even those who are sympathetic to President Obama on most issues are saying that part of the reason he did this was to quote “box in” President-elect Trump,’ Conway said on CNN.
‘That would be very unfortunate if politics were the motivating factor here. We can’t help but think that’s often true.
‘All we heard through the election was “Russia, Russia, Russia”. Since the election, it’s just this fever pitch of accusations and insinuations.’
However, despite Trump’s comments, Obama has found allies within the Republican Party who celebrated his move.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell the sanctions ‘a good initial step, however late in coming.’
He then went on to accuse Obama of allowing Russia to ‘expanded its sphere of influence’, over the past eight years.
McConnell said: ‘The Russians are not our friends,’ and is promising that Congress will review accusations that Moscow interfered in the US election.
He added Congress will ‘work to ensure that any attack against the United States is met with an overwhelming response’.
Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham also said sanctions against announced by the Obama administration are ‘a small price’ for Russia to pay for interfering with US elections, adding they will lead efforts in Congress to impose stronger punishments.
McCain, of Arizona, and Graham, of South Carolina, called Russian cyberattacks on the 2016 election a ‘brazen attack on American democracy’ and say retaliation measures announced Thursday by Obama are long overdue.
Russian officials have denied the Obama administration’s accusations that Putin’s government was involved at the highest levels in trying to influence the U.S. presidential election.
U.S. intelligence agencies concluded Russia’s goal was to help Donald Trump win – an assessment Trump has dismissed as ridiculous.
SOURCE: Daily Mail
Vladimir the merciful?
Following this morning’s reports that Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov would recommend to Russian President Vladimir Putin a retaliation in kind, and expel 35 American diplomats, saying that “we cannot leave such acts unanswered. Reciprocity is part of diplomatic law” with Putin spokesman Peskov adding that “there is no doubt that Russia’s adequate and mirror response will make Washington officials feel very uncomfortable as well”, it was ultimately up to Putin to decide how to respond to the US.
Which he did on Friday morning, when in a stunning reversal, the Russian leader took the high road, rejected the Lavrov proposal, and in a statement posted by the Kremlin said that Russia won’t expel any Americans in retaliation to US moves, in a brutal demonstration of just how irrelevant Obama’s 11th hour decision is for US-Russian relations.
The reversal comes as Russian officials portrayed U.S. sanctions as a last act of a lame-duck president and suggested that Trump could reverse them when he takes over the White House in January.
Earlier Russian Prime Minster Dmitry Medvedev said the Obama administration was ending its term in “anti-Russia death throes.”
“It is regrettable that the Obama administration, which started out by restoring our ties, is ending its term in an anti-Russia death throes. RIP,” Medvedev, who served as president in 2009 when Obama tried to improve Russia-U.S. relations, wrote on his official Facebook page.
In the just released statement, Putin laughed off Obama’s 11th hour temper tantrum, and said that Russia won’t cause problems to U.S. diplomats or deport anyone, adding that Russia has the right to respond in tit-for-tat manner, but it will not engage in irresponsible diplomacy.
The punchline, however, was saved for what may be Russia’s final slam of the debacle that is Obama’s administration saying that “It’s a pity that the current U.S. administration is finishing their work in such a manner” saying that Russia refuses “to sink to the level of this irresponsible “kitchen” diplomacy.”
Putin ended the statement by congratulating U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, and the American people on the New Year and invited the hildren of US diplomats to a holiday celebration at the Kremlin.
From the full statement posted on the Kremlin website:
Although we have the right to retaliate, we will not resort to irresponsible ‘kitchen’ diplomacy but will plan our further steps to restore Russian-US relations based on the policies of the Trump Administration.
And with that one statement, Obama lost the diplomatic war with Russia.
In other news, the Kremlin said it will send a government plane to the US to evacuate the expelled diplomats and their family members. Earlier, there were reports that the diplomats were having problems buying tickets on such short notice, with airlines already booked by New Year’s travelers.
* * *
Full Putin statement below:
We regard the recent unfriendly steps taken by the outgoing US administration as provocative and aimed at further weakening the Russia-US relationship. This runs contrary to the fundamental interests of both the Russian and American people. Considering the global security responsibilities of Russia and the United States, this is also damaging to international relations as a whole.
As it proceeds from international practice, Russia has reasons to respond in kind. Although we have the right to retaliate, we will not resort to irresponsible ‘kitchen’ diplomacy but will plan our further steps to restore Russian-US relations based on the policies of the Trump Administration.
The diplomats who are returning to Russia will spend the New Year’s holidays with their families and friends. We will not create any problems for US diplomats. We will not expel anyone. We will not prevent their families and children from using their traditional leisure sites during the New Year’s holidays. Moreover, I invite all children of US diplomats accredited in Russia to the New Year and Christmas children’s parties in the Kremlin.
It is regrettable that the Obama Administration is ending its term in this manner. Nevertheless, I offer my New Year greetings to President Obama and his family.
My season’s greetings also to President-elect Donald Trump and the American people.
I wish all of you happiness and prosperity.
The silent, months-long contempt expressed by the Russian political class toward the departing White House Administration was suddenly interrupted on Thursday by U.S. President Barack Obama’s announcement of a new set of anti-Russian sanctions.
In Russian media, in the political class and among government officials, the reaction in Moscow was fierce, vocal and pugnacious.
Obama’s decision to expel Russian diplomats—in addition to sanctioning a number of Russian companies and individuals—is nothing but evidence of the agony of the outgoing administration, Konstantin Kosachev, head of the International Committee of the Russian Upper House of Parliament, said to RIA Novosti. “The leaving administration has no reason and no political or moral right for such drastic and disruptive steps with regards to bilateral relations with Russia. Forgive me for being harsh, but I just cannot find other words: this is the agony of not the lame ducks, but of political corpses,” the Russian Senator said. “[President Obama] put at stake the U.S.’s reputation as an adequate state that ensures policy continuity in the process of change of power.”
“This is really a disturbing news,” responded Kosachev’s deputy, Alexei Chepa. According to the politician, Obama’s goal was simply to create new problems for President-elect Donald Trump—more obstacles in building better relations with Russia. “It creates additional difficulties for the [Trump] administration to overcome later.”
Chepa’s colleague from the International Committee of Parliament, Vladimir Dzhabarov, believes Obama was attempting to annoy Russia “out of impotence.” “Obama proved himself to be an arbitrary person who happened to lead the United States,” he said.
Russian think-tanks and academia agree. “The goal of the 44th U.S. president is to complicate things for the 45th one,” Gevorg Mirzayan, a professor at Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation, told Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper.
“This is very unusual,” Mirzayan continued, “because usually when one’s political opponents from another party arrive into the White House, the power is transferred with dignity. But instead of this, the current [U.S.] most important person, like a ‘mad printer,’ is creating laws and decrees with the goal to freeze the ‘foreign affairs revolution’ of the new administration. I believe that the personal antipathies of Obama, who believes ‘Putin beat him on all fronts—including the elections’ play a role here.”